When I Need A Pick Me Up, by my friend Ryan King

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Sailing Over

(Originally 4/18/07)

When I open up my Yahoo page, or the automatic MSN browser that came with this work laptop, I can't help but see the Virginia Tech story. The same way I couldn't help see the Imus story. And all the other stories that raise my blood pressure and cause me throughout the day to shake my head and talk to myself and my God, and ask aloud just what the hell is really going on out here.

No, Imus does not equate with Virginia Tech. They are two distinctly different tragedies. But what they have in common is the fact that I keep trying to avoid them and I can't. I avoid writing about them, but in my head, they romp and roam.

So I've felt guilty for 'ignoring' current events, and here's my feeble attempt at addressing them.

Crazy people are like a force of nature. They're as a part of the world as tornadoes. Just as differing air pressures, air temperatures, and geography causes tornadoes, I think culture and biology causes crazy people. And of course, when I say crazy, I don't mean crazy-like-me, but DSM-IV-diagnosed crazy.

When I say biology, I mean people are born with different brain biology which spans from one spectrum to the other. An infant is born with a brain that may never develop the personality and emotions past the age of five. Or it might not allow the person to process anger successfully without a major blowup first to relieve the pressure. Or it may cause the person to experience a sense of pervasive dread all their lives. Or it might cause them to be sunny and optimistic through the worst times imaginable. Or it might cause them to cycle all of the above on a regular basis, improperly. Or properly. Or it might allow the person to operate normally in whatever society they were born in. Or. Or. Or.

It's a miracle that any planet with billions of these people last through any given day. This is why people believe in a God.

And now we see a young man who developed in a way, through how many ever cultures (Chinese national, American student), to think it was an acceptable alternative to get a weapon and murder a classroom full of people who was not even connected to the object of his obsession, and then kill himself. To you and me, this is crazy. To him, it was the way to negotiate through his problem.

I'm a mental health professional (go ahead, get the laugh out now) because of two primary reasons. One, my mother set out a good example for me to learn how to accept mentally ill people. Not because she herself was ill (this I didn't figure out until years after her death), but because she worked at a psychiatric hospital and she treated her patients like people. She treated them better than she treated me, in fact. The second reason is because I like to understand my world, and since it's comprised of people, learning what makes them tick brings order to my own mind. If someone wigs out on the grocery line, instead of the fear that I can imagine myself feeling, I can explain to myself why the person might be wigging, and if necessary, I can even control the situation with a few well-placed words. (This may be the motivation behind why people become police or firefighters too; but again, that's me explaining to myself why the world is the way it is).

So when I'm faced with something like a Columbine or now a "Virginia Tech" (welcome to the lexicon of tragedy, Virginia Tech. I'm sure that was never a goal of yours) I need to cut it up into bite-sized morsels of understanding; man's search to bring order to chaos.

Or do my best to avoid it.

Most times, I excel at the latter, and right now, that's I'm going with. Because ven the bite-sized chunks are too big to handle.

1 comment:

Alan said...

Scott said...

My wife is fascinated with the Virginia Tech story too, says she wants to understand why as well. Sometimes I find it easier just to know people can do things like that, then move on.
7:44 AM
Alan said...

Looks like the media isn't going to let us do that. Now I want to look at this person's video to check against my own interpretion of his behavior, but 95% of me wishes the media would not have pounced so hard on it, and 3% of me asks if he really deserves to be heard after what he's done. Okay, switch that ratio to 65% and 32%.
9:14 AM